1 John 1:5-10
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.…
The apostle warns us against saying more than we have made our own by experience. To have fellowship with God is a great matter; but merely to say that we have fellowship with Him is a totally different thing. John warns us that if we say that which our characters do not support, we lie. He leaves it just so, without a word of softening or excuse. Let us now speak of the real thing — the fellowship with God, which comes of walking in the light. The Christian life is described as walking, which implies activity. Chiefly in the character of active workers, or in that of willing sufferers, we must maintain fellowship with God. Walking implies activity; but it must be of a continuous kind. Neither this step, nor that, nor the next, can make a walk. Not he that begins, but he that continues, is the true Christian; final perseverance enters into the very essence of the believer's life; the true pilgrims of Zion go from strength to strength. This suggests that walking implies progress. He that takes one step and another step, and still stands where he was, has not walked.
I. Consider, first, THE LIGHT OF OUR WALK. True believers do not walk in darkness; they have found the road, and they see it before them. Moral darkness is contrary to their newborn nature: they cannot endure it. What is this light, then, in which the Christian walks?
1. I answer, first, it is the light of grace. The Holy Spirit brings us out from under the dominion of the old nature by creating within us a new life, and He brings us out from under the tyranny of the Prince of Darkness by opening our eyes to see and our minds to understand celestial truth. The result of this light is seen in various ways. It causes deep sorrow in the beginning, for its first discoveries are grievous to the conscience. Light is painful to eyes long accustomed to darkness. Anon the light brings great joy, for the soul perceives deliverance from the evils which it mourned. "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart."
2. Ever, in each condition, you observe conspicuously that the light of grace is seen as the light of sincerity. Hypocrisy and pretence fly before sincere belief and feeling.
3. Next to sincerity I regard a willingness to know and to be known as an early result of walking in the light of God. A religion which we will not submit to the test of self-examination cannot be worth much. No one is afraid to have a genuine sovereign submitted to any test: it is the coiner who is afraid. We must build on truth, and nothing else but truth.
4. A still surer evidence of grace is the mind's perception of revealed truth and its obedience to it. Are the doctrines of grace essential verities with thee? Whatever God has said about sin, righteousness, judgment to come, art thou ready to accept it at once? Whatever He has revealed concerning Himself, His Son, His Holy Spirit, the Cross, life, death, hell, and the eternal future, dost thou believe it unfeignedly? This is to walk in the light.
5. This leads to a transparency and simplicity of character. The man who does in reality what he seems to do; the man who says what he means, and means what he says; the man who is truthful. artless, and sincere in all his general dealings both before God and man, he it is whose conduct leads us to hope that the light of grace shines within.
6. This is very evident in the man's cessation from all guile towards himself. Remember how David pronounces him blessed "in whose spirit there is no guile." He knew painfully what it was to be full of guile. "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation." He is in the light now, for deceit has gone, and now God can speak comfortably to him, and wash him and make him whiter than snow.
7. The man who is walking in the light, as God is in the light, is full of abhorrence of sin. Sin is practical falsehood; it is moral darkness. "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." Forget not this practical truth.
II. I come, secondly, to THE COMMUNION OF OUR WALK. Those who are in the light shall not be alone. God Himself will be with them, and be their God. What honour! What joy is this! Thus is the mischief of the Fall removed, and Paradise is restored. God in the light and man in the light have much in common. Now are they abiding in one element, for they are dwelling in one light. Now are they both concerned about the same thing, and their aims are undivided: God loves truth, and so do those who are renewed in heart. Now we partake with God in sympathy, having a fellow feeling with Him. Does the great Father mourn His prodigal child? So do we mourn over sinners. Do we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem? So do we mourn for the perishing who will not be saved. Again, as God rejoices over sinners that repent, so do we rejoice in sympathy with Him.
III. THE GLORY OF THIS COMMUNION. "We have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." I gather from the way in which this sentence grows out of the text that this very thing, which looks as if it were the death of all communion with God, is made by infinite grace to be a wide and open channel of communion with Him. This stone is rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, and the angel of communion sits down upon it as on a throne.
1. To begin with, here is sin! What an evil thing it is! How our soul hates it! "O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?" Listen! You are having fellowship with God in this. God hates it also; and herein you are agreed.
2. Sin being once perceived, the next step is that it should be got rid of. "Ah!" say you, "I wish I could be cleansed from it — cleansed from all of it; but how can this be? It is not possible for me to purge away my sin." The sacrifice of the Only-Begotten is the unique hope of sinners. The laying of our iniquity upon Him who deigned to be the great scapegoat of His people is the sole means for the taking away of the sins of the world. That inward persuasion of the impossibility of the purgation of sin by any doings or feelings of our own, and the consequent perception that in Christ only lies the help of men, has brought us through the light of truth to walk in fellowship with the thrice holy God.
3. The glorious Son of God condescends to become the atonement for sin. Standing by the tree of doom, we look up to that blessed Saviour with all-absorbing admiration and love. In the putting away of sin by the blood of Jesus the Father has an infinite content, and so have we. A step further.
4. Many of us have come to Jesus Christ by faith; we have looked to Him, and have accepted Him as our Saviour cleansing us from all sin. We rejoice in perfect whiteness, for the Lord has made us whiter than snow. Yes, we have fellowship with God in this cleansing, for God accepts us in the Beloved. God that made Him to be the Lord our Righteousness, God Himself justifies us in His Son. He will in the last great day make the whole universe a witness to the righteousness of the salvation of believers.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.